Engineering vacancy and hydrophobicity of two-dimensional TaTe2 for efficient and stable electrocatalytic N2 reduction

Innovation (N Y). 2021 Nov 27;3(1):100190. doi: 10.1016/j.xinn.2021.100190. eCollection 2022 Jan 25.

ABSTRACT

Demand for ammonia continues to increase to sustain the growing global population. The direct electrochemical N2 reduction reaction (NRR) powered by renewable electricity offers a promising carbon-neutral and sustainable strategy for manufacturing NH3, yet achieving this remains a grand challenge. Here, we report a synergistic strategy to promote ambient NRR for ammonia production by tuning the Te vacancies (VTe) and surface hydrophobicity of two-dimensional TaTe2 nanosheets. Remarkable NH3 faradic efficiency of up to 32.2% is attained at a mild overpotential, which is largely maintained even after 100 h of consecutive electrolysis. Isotopic labeling validates that the N atoms of formed NH4+ originate from N2. In situ X-ray diffraction indicates preservation of the crystalline structure of TaTe2 during NRR. Further density functional theory calculations reveal that the potential-determining step (PDS) is ∗NH2 + (H+ + e-) → NH3 on VTe-TaTe2 compared with that of ∗ + N2 + (H+ + e-) → ∗N-NH on TaTe2. We identify that the edge plane of TaTe2 and VTe serve as the main active sites for NRR. The free energy change at PDS on VTe-TaTe2 is comparable with the values at the top of the NRR volcano plots on various transition metal surfaces.

PMID:34984409 | PMC:PMC8693264 | DOI:10.1016/j.xinn.2021.100190

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